“Our working conditions are our students’ learning conditions”
Lessons from Chicago: The CTU strike shows we can fight and win!
When 26,000 teachers went out on strike in Chicago on September 10th they pointed
the way forward for all of us by showing that teacher unions can be mobilized to lead
the fight for educational and social justice.
What can we learn from the Chicago teachers’ Strike?
1) If you fight, you can win. In the current economic crisis, concessions have become the norm. While Chicago
teachers didn’t win everything they wanted, they won much more by striking than months of negotiations
would have ever produced. In New York City, teachers have been three years without a new contract.
2) The public is on our side. Despite the immense propaganda machine against teachers and teacher unions,
the vast majority of people in Chicago – particularly parents of children in public schools –supported the
teachers because they understood that this was a fight against privatization and union-busting and for public
education and social justice.
3) Union members must be organized. The CTU spent two years developing leadership and organization at
every school site which paid off during the strike.
4) Union democracy is essential. The rank and file members of the Chicago Teachers Union were engaged and
involved in decision making both in preparation for the strike and throughout the strike itself. It was a lesson in
union democracy from which we all have a lot to learn.
5) Social movement unionism is essential. The caucus that leads the Chicago Teachers Union, CORE, has been
fighting against school closures for years. While they haven’t always won those fights, they fought side by side
with the communities they serve to defend public education and demand the “The Schools Chicago’s Students
Deserve.” They fought not only for teacher rights, but air conditioners, smaller class sizes, and an enriched
curriculum. We, in MORE, hope to learn these lessons so as to build a fighting teachers union movement in NYC
to fight for quality public education for all students.
MORE was formed in 2012 by a diverse group of UFT members with long histories of activism. We are present and
former chapter leaders, delegates, as well as rank and file members who have just gotten involved in our union. If
you agree with our ideas please get involved! Join MORE and help us rebuild the union we all want and need. Join at
http://www.morecaucusnyc.org. Like us on Facebook.com/MOREcaucusNYC. Follow us on Twitter @MOREcaucusNYC.